How to delete the apps left over after an iTunes 12.7 install to regain storage on macOS o...

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Apple's decision to remove the iOS App Store from iTunes as part of the version 12.7 update controversially took away the ability to download apps to a Mac or PC, but all of the locally-stored apps were kept in place. We show you how to delete these files and free up some storage in the process.




On September 12, Apple issued an update to iTunes for desktop computers that incorporated a number of changes, focusing it more on content than apps. Removing the App Store from iTunes meant users had to manage their downloads and purchases through their iPads and iPhones, instead of through their macOS or Windows desktop.

Despite removing the ability to download apps, Apple chose to keep all downloaded apps intact instead of automatically deleting them, a decision likely to be welcomed by some users. For others, this means that there's a pile of apps in their Mac or PC's storage that are taking up valuable disk space, and may be worth deleting.

Apple did not include an option within the iTunes update to delete the apps, so users who want to remove the files will have to do so manually.

But, you may not want to purge just yet...

It is worth noting that users may not necessarily wish to get rid of the files stored in the directory. It is still possible to install signed .ipa files within iTunes 12.7 by dragging and dropping them, but as iTunes can no longer update the files, it is only really of use to those wanting to install older versions of apps.

Apple has also made the enterprise version of iTunes 12.6.3 available to download which retains app management and installation facilities, though this is an unsupported version. While this is meant for business users, Apple advises enterprise customers needing to deploy apps should do so via its Volume Purchase Programs and Apple Configurator on Mac.

If there's no reason to keep them because loading from the cloud is fine, here's how to do it.

How to delete the iOS apps stored on a Mac




Go into the Finder on the Mac and access the Music directory. If Music does not appear in the Favorites section to the left, it can be accessed in the majority of cases by selecting the Mac under Devices, then Macintosh HD, Users, and then the relevant user account.

Once inside the Music folder, access the iTunes directory, followed by iTunes Media, and lastly Mobile Applications. The Mobile Applications directory holds all of the apps downloaded to the Mac, listed as .ipa files, with users able to delete either the individual files or the entire directory.

The amount of space the contents of the directory takes up will depend entirely on the user's downloading habits. One AppleInsider writer had a downloads directory weighing in at 87 gigabytes, while another's was a smaller but still considerable 11 gigabytes.

How to delete the iOS apps stored on Windows 10




Windows 10 users have to go through a similar process of finding the iTunes directory through File Explorer. Again, though this will vary between installations, but it can usually be found in the user's Documents directory, within the enclosed Music directory.

The file path within the iTunes directory is the same as for macOS, by accessing iTunes Media and then Mobile Applications. As with macOS, the .ipa files can be deleted individually or the entire directory can be removed.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,804member
    Good tip. Thanks AI.
    minicoffeelolliver
  • Reply 2 of 36
    I just got a new iPad Pro from work. The IT Mangement profile prevents iCloud backup. Not being able to manage app installs via iTunes  (ie install from a iTunes backup of the old iPad) is very annoying.  
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 3 of 36
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 223member
    For sure a good tip, thanks. Cleaned up about 35GB. A bit un-Apple to leave so much behind...
  • Reply 4 of 36
    Is there a way to downgrade iTunes? Not being able to store and manage your apps from iTunes is a royal pain. I try not upgrade app, unless there are worth new features included. Apps like Facebook that make updates so they can autoplay video ads and others like Skype that just complicate the UI for no good reason are the worst. So I just try to keep the oldest functional version of these apps on all my devices. Also, how are you supposed to manage apps that aren't offered on the app store anymore or you old devices that don't support the latest iOS, therefore you can't update certain apps?!
    mwhite
  • Reply 5 of 36
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,333administrator
    gutengel said:
    Is there a way to downgrade iTunes? Not being able to store and manage your apps from iTunes is a royal pain. I try not upgrade app, unless there are worth new features included. Apps like Facebook that make updates so they can autoplay video ads and others like Skype that just complicate the UI for no good reason are the worst. So I just try to keep the oldest functional version of these apps on all my devices. Also, how are you supposed to manage apps that aren't offered on the app store anymore or you old devices that don't support the latest iOS, therefore you can't update certain apps?!
    See the link in the story about iTunes 12.6.3.
    gutengeldouglas bailey
  • Reply 6 of 36
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,333administrator
    entropys said:
    I just got a new iPad Pro from work. The IT Mangement profile prevents iCloud backup. Not being able to manage app installs via iTunes  (ie install from a iTunes backup of the old iPad) is very annoying.  
    This is a device management decision somebody in IT consciously made for some reason. Your best bet is to talk to them about it.
    edited October 2017 fastasleep
  • Reply 7 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,672member
    JanNL said:
    For sure a good tip, thanks. Cleaned up about 35GB. A bit un-Apple to leave so much behind…
    This is very inline with Apple. If Apple automatically deleted all iOS applications from your system that the user had chosen to save via iTunes when they removed this feature there would be major outrage. You can even still see those apps in iTunes, which is handy for a Restore that will offer the fastest way to reinstall everything or install an older iOS app if you don't like a recent update that has been made to a 3rd-party app.

    gutengel said:
    Is there a way to downgrade iTunes? Not being able to store and manage your apps from iTunes is a royal pain. I try not upgrade app, unless there are worth new features included. Apps like Facebook that make updates so they can autoplay video ads and others like Skype that just complicate the UI for no good reason are the worst. So I just try to keep the oldest functional version of these apps on all my devices. Also, how are you supposed to manage apps that aren't offered on the app store anymore or you old devices that don't support the latest iOS, therefore you can't update certain apps?!
    1) Yes.

    2) A bit of a segue from the article, but my issue with this change to iTunes is that Apple hasn't updated their webpages for iOS apps to support this change. Every time I find an iOS app that I want in Safari on my Mac—which my preferred way to search for apps—it was launching iTunes can't load the iOS App Store which would then launch the website again which at first did this repeatedly. Now they seem to have fixed this but their website still has "View in iTunes" links, which will cause this attention to detail(?) error.


    It's all very inconvenient for me since I now have to send myself the link on iMessage, save in Reader, or keep Safari open so I can open Safari on my iPhone to pull it up via iCloud's Handoff feature. I don't install many new apps these days but this change will likely make me buy even fewer apps.
    edited October 2017 gutengel
  • Reply 8 of 36
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,242member
    I’m still somewhat shocked with the timing of this change by Apple. This is clearly the largest change to iTunes in the past five years or maybe longer and it slithered in through a point-level update. What the ... I understand why they did it but geez, a little more warning and priming beforehand would have been nice. A pop up warning after installing was kind of lame. 

    I suspect that with device management being scraped out of iTunes we’ll be seeing more Apps being released that are specific to unique versions of iOS devices. This is something that would be difficult to support or at least very clumsy with iTunes in the mix. 
  • Reply 9 of 36
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,212member
    entropys said:
    I just got a new iPad Pro from work. The IT Mangement profile prevents iCloud backup. Not being able to manage app installs via iTunes  (ie install from a iTunes backup of the old iPad) is very annoying.  
    You can still backup and restore from iTunes, but it sounds like your IT people are preventing that. That’s not iTunes’ fault. 
  • Reply 10 of 36
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,212member

    dewme said:
    I’m still somewhat shocked with the timing of this change by Apple. This is clearly the largest change to iTunes in the past five years or maybe longer and it slithered in through a point-level update. What the ... I understand why they did it but geez, a little more warning and priming beforehand would have been nice. A pop up warning after installing was kind of lame. 

    I suspect that with device management being scraped out of iTunes we’ll be seeing more Apps being released that are specific to unique versions of iOS devices. This is something that would be difficult to support or at least very clumsy with iTunes in the mix. 
    They had already deprecated downloading apps to iTunes like a year ago. You can still manage your device through iTunes, just not directly download or organize your apps. You can get Configurator from the App Store for free which has similar app management features (at least as far as the organizing home screen layouts go). 
  • Reply 11 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,672member

    dewme said:
    I’m still somewhat shocked with the timing of this change by Apple. This is clearly the largest change to iTunes in the past five years or maybe longer and it slithered in through a point-level update. What the ... I understand why they did it but geez, a little more warning and priming beforehand would have been nice. A pop up warning after installing was kind of lame. 

    I suspect that with device management being scraped out of iTunes we’ll be seeing more Apps being released that are specific to unique versions of iOS devices. This is something that would be difficult to support or at least very clumsy with iTunes in the mix. 
    They had already deprecated downloading apps to iTunes like a year ago. You can still manage your device through iTunes, just not directly download or organize your apps. You can get Configurator from the App Store for free which has similar app management features (at least as far as the organizing home screen layouts go). 
    Unless I'm understanding your meaning that wasn't the case for me until this update. I would always download the app via the iOS App Store portal in iTunes which would then auto install it on my iPhone.
  • Reply 12 of 36
    So we won't delete anything, because we can still upload them with Apple Configurator.
  • Reply 13 of 36
    Gutting or replacing legacy Mac apps without warning is consistent with the iPhoto to Photos "downgrade" in 2015. 
  • Reply 14 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,672member
    mdwychoff said:
    Gutting or replacing legacy Mac apps without warning is consistent with the iPhoto to Photos "downgrade" in 2015. 
    1) How is iTunes in any way a legacy app if it hasn't been replaced?

    2) I've noted that they removed a feature I like because it's my primary method for obtaining my iOS apps, but the general barrage of complaints about iTunes has been that it's too bloated and that every different type of media should segregated to a different app (which I think is ridiculous), yet now people are upset when Apple makes a single move to remove a single feature of its iTunes Store portal access? I don't get it.
  • Reply 15 of 36
    Problem with iTunes 12.7 is now you have no idea if any apps that you do NOT have installed on your iOS device (but own)  have received an update. Apple should really make the purchased apps section on the iOS app store more robust, for example allowing you to sort that list by last updated would help. As it stands now if an app that you own and have long since removed from your iOS device and have forgotten about recieves a compelling update you'll never know!!
    edited October 2017 douglas bailey
  • Reply 16 of 36
    I don’t want to delete all my apps from this folder, only the ones that I’m happy about the current version on my iPhone/iPad. Looks like I have to determine that manually. :neutral: 
  • Reply 17 of 36
    I did this and it was about a gig, but the readout in Finder did not change. Big whoop. 🍸🙀🔥
  • Reply 18 of 36
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 223member
    You can still backup and restore from iTunes, but it sounds like your IT people are preventing that. That’s not iTunes’ fault. 
    Ah :# , do I have a problem with a full restore now I deleted all apps (was eager to reclaim 27GB...)? Or are the backups in iTunes from iPhone/iPad still intact/full?
    Otherwise will put them back in an instant from backup.
  • Reply 19 of 36
    I have an MBA with 120 GB. I have just followed the instructions above and then I emptied the trash (freed up about 1 GB). But now when I click on the apple button (top left) => About This Mac => Storage ... well I get the coloured line showing what is taking up memory, when I hold the curser over the 5th colour, it says "12.27 GB ... iOS Files". Could anybody explain why I still have 12.27 GB of iOS Files ?
  • Reply 20 of 36
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,333administrator
    JanNL said:
    You can still backup and restore from iTunes, but it sounds like your IT people are preventing that. That’s not iTunes’ fault. 
    Ah :# , do I have a problem with a full restore now I deleted all apps (was eager to reclaim 27GB...)? Or are the backups in iTunes from iPhone/iPad still intact/full?
    Otherwise will put them back in an instant from backup.
    The backups are still intact. They don't live in the apps folder.
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